by Randy Pierce
For the second month in a row, consideration by the Fairview Heights Planning Commission concerning a special use permit request for a used car dealership to be operated at 5605 North Illinois Street has been tabled.
Factoring into the delay in the permit approval are some compliance requirements that had been set down in conjunction with the appearance, operations and practices utilized by the business at this location.
In concurring with the recommendation of the city’s director of land use and development, Dallas Alley, earlier this month to table the permit request as they had done in December, the planning commission members discussed with him what has been going on there. The business property is on the west side of North Illinois Street/Illinois Route 159 south of Longacre Drive roughly between the Fazoli’s restaurant and the Scooter’s coffee drive-through location.
Alley told the planning commission members at a meeting held Tuesday, January 9, that the operators of the business have met with him and displayed a willingness to comply with what is being asked of them but need another month to get everything addressed.
This resulted in a response from one of the commissioners, Pat Herrington, who said, “What exactly have they done so far? I went by there today. I don’t see anything.”
A dumpster enclosure, as required for commercial properties in the city, which had been lacking was put up, Alley noted, but the dumpster itself is yet to be moved inside of it and this was anticipated to be happening soon when the waste hauler servicing that site makes its next pick-up there.
The business owners also, he continued, had contacted Ameren Illinois to adjust the lighting toward the back of the property so that it does not shine on the residential lot behind it and all the requirements concerning signage at this location have been met.
Alley went on to explain there still exists some parking lot issues, a concern about an overgrowth of vegetation and the condition of the building to be used to house the business.
Subject to further scrutiny for the business, that was originally to be known as the Nova Auto Center, and updated by Alley at the most recent planning commission meeting, was the practice of spray-painting vehicles there.
No additional such painting has occurred recently, Alley pointed out, but the city is continuing to monitor the location to make sure it does not.
The Fairview-Caseyville Township Fire Protection District, as it was pointed out at the December planning commission meeting, had issue an order for there to be no spray painting at 5605 North Illinois Street because a booth as required by state Environmental Protection Agency regulations for doing this was not in place.
This was a primary reason the permit request was not acted upon last month as Fairview Fire Department Chief Bryan Doyle advised against it because of the spray-painting situation.
Additionally at that meeting, Herrington had asked Alley about the dumpster enclosure, lighting, signage and repairs to the parking lot surface.
Another commissioner, Patrick McCarthy, in December, had pointed out other problematic conditions at this site including disrepair of the windows, doorways and fencing, animal holes around the building and more of which he provided in photos he had taken.
After proceeding through the process of planning commission review, a recommendation from the Fairview Heights City Council Community Committee Planning Committee then approval by the city council, special use permits for 5605 North Illinois Street had been authorized previously in both February and October 2023, but subsequent circumstances could result in an expansion of this scenario.
The representatives of the business had originally been approved to operate a “full-service auto repair facility” then returned a few months later asking the planning commission for authorization for “an auto repair facility (and painting center)” as indicated in their second request last year. It was in early October that the city council approved a permit request for “an auto body repair facility” at 5605 North Illinois Street.
More recently, the request for the “used car dealership” on the property was required to be submitted and reviewed independently because it represents a different and supplemental use beyond what had been originally approved.
The written request for the addition of painting facilities made no mention of a spray booth but instead said the middle and rear parts of the building would be used for this purpose, the former for prepping, washing and readying the vehicles, then the back, where the applicants said a ventilation system was in place, for the actual painting.
The individuals listed on the applications for the special use permits have included Aaron Davis of Wood River, L. Wayne Foster of Belleville, Grisnely Homere of Winchester Place in Fairview Heights and property owner Qais Hussein who was originally quoted in the February planning commission minutes as saying he resided in Winchester Place also but then, upon being questioned for clarification by McCarthy, corrected himself in noting he has lived in Swansea since 2008.